Advocating that scientists develop a better understanding of the way in which stories work IS NOT advocating dishonesty any more than recommending someone visit a handimart store is a recommendation that they rob it.

THINGS THAT HAPPEN WHEN YOU’RE LIVING ON EARTH: I got some angry emails after appearing on NPR’s “Living on Earth.”

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October 26th, 2010

…………………….From the Year 2020: “Lionfish, lionfish, lionfish, that’s all that’s left on Caribbean coral reefs.”

Last week we released our new Lionfish Public Service Announcement. Andy Revkin did a nice job of tying it together with the introduced carp problem in the midwest.

It stars three of my favorite GroundlingsMitch Silpa (star of “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy”), Edi Patterson (who has a cameo in “Sizzle” and currently costars with Mitch in an improv show), and Andrew Friedman (a long time member of the Groundlings main stage cast whom I’ve been wanting to work with for a long time). Be sure to check out the outtake reel on the website for the PSA.

Death to lionfish!

Two weeks ago Dr. Eugenie Scott, the Director of N.C.S.E., came to Los Angeles for a tribute screening of the movie, “Inherit the Wind,” on it’s 50th anniversary. While in town I managed to get her to sit down to talk about some of the basic aspects of the N.C.S.E. which could be of relevance to the folks defending climate science. Here are some excerpts of what she had to say, presented in this 5 minute video.


Over the past five years, through the making of my two feature films (“Flock of Dodos,” “Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy”) I’ve had the opportunity to see the attacks on evolution and climate science. I’ve also been given a good look at the efforts to defend these two fields of science. I think a few simple patterns are evident.

The defense of evolution has a relatively hierarchical structure to it with strong leadership, has scored a number of major victories, and today has a network of well-organized, grassroots resources keeping a vigilant eye on “flare ups” (as Genie calls them in the video) around the country.

In contrast, the current feeling in the climate community is a sense of defeat (after the collapse of all major legislative efforts, the growth of skepticism about global warming, and the aggressive media coup scored after the Climategate incident a year ago). At a recent climate activism workshop I attended there were complaints about the problems of “20 environmental groups all doing the same thing,” and a clear absence of agreement over who exactly is in charge when it comes to defending the profession of climate science. It seems to me there are elements of Malcolm Gladwell’s recent New Yorker article, “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” to be seen — specifically the contrast between a hierarchical structure versus a network in confronting aggressive opposition.

For both efforts, there are countless very dedicated, even heroic, individuals working at the grassroots level while the large science organizations attempt to stay clear of politics. But in my impression there is one very clear difference. For the issue of evolution, there has existed for over two decades a central “clearinghouse,” organization — the National Center for Science Education. As Genie says in the video, throughout the evolution community, there is a general widespread response of, “Go see NCSE,” when people have ANY questions about the attacks on evolution.

I don’t see anything similar for the defense of climate science.

A FESTIVAL HITS IT’S STRIDE: The 3rd annual Imagine Science Film Festival is poised to establish it’s unique role in fostering that which is most essential for the doing of science: IMAGINATION.


The second essay I ever posted here on The Benshi was about the importance of The Imagine Science Film Festival. I now want to reaffirm EVERY single word I wrote in that piece.

I was a judge this year, and over the past two weeks the task went from feared tedium to downright exhilaration. There are some excellent, brilliant, amazing, inspiring and wonderful films this year.

The festival is the brainchild of Alexis Gambis, recent Ph.D. recipient in molecular stuff from Rockefeller University who is now attending NYU Film School (let’s hear it for the scientist-turned-filmmakers of the world!).

These films are WILDLY creative. They are not just documentaries where someone took a camera and started randomly filming everything. No, you can tell all of these films come from very, very imaginative minds. Several of them left me in awe. Seriously.

If you’re anywhere close to NYC, you should make time next week to attend some of the screenings. This is a unique, bold, and important film festival. It has a clear voice and vision, which is the desire to identify truly creative artists and give them support. I can’t say enough good things about what Alexis is doing with this festival and hope you’ll all turn out, not just to support it, but to enjoy the AMAZING lineup of films they’ve got for this year!

Dr. Eugenie Scott, Director of the National Center for Science Education for over two decades, is a role model when it comes to being a spokesperson for a cause — in her case, defending the teaching of evolution.

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A film (actually 3 short films) came out last week associated with the 10:10 climate event. Apparently it ruffled a few feathers. Several people asked me for quotes. I gave only the one quote to Andy Revkin you can read halfway down his blogpost. I knew better than to enter into such a mess.

But I will note one thing. The video has scored a half million views on Youtube already. Here’s a Public Service Announcement from NRDC starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Ed Norton, and a slew of other celebrities, released in February. It has 653 views.

Nuff said.

#74) Bring Back Al Gore

October 4th, 2010

Last week’s New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell, combined with a leaderless workshop on global warming, adds up to an inescapable conclusion: Al Gore, your work is not done.

THE REVOLUTION WON’T BE FROM THE COUCH. In his latest New Yorker article Malcolm Gladwell breaks the bad news about social media, which is that you probably aren’t likely to “change the world” sitting in bed in your underwear pounding away on your laptop. Sorry. It’s called “weak ties.” It makes for weak efforts. He says you’re gonna have to comb your hair, put on your shoes and get out the door. He uses the civil rights movement as a model for social change, then says, “Fifty years after one of the most extraordinary episodes of social upheaval in American society, we seem to have forgotten what activism is.” Tell it like it is, brother Gladwell!

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